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Novell "Forking" OpenOffice.org 370

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the patent-office-dot-org dept.
l2718 writes to mention that In the wake of their recent deal with Microsoft, Novell has announced a new version of OpenOffice.org which will support Microsoft's planned Office formal, Open XML. From the article: "The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell's OpenOffice.org product. Novell will release the code to integrate the Open XML format into its product as open source and submit it for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project. As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites."
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Novell "Forking" OpenOffice.org

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:48PM (#17106804)
    I used OpenOffice and it forked me when it corrupted my boss' spreadsheet right before an important presentation
  • That's not a fork (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:50PM (#17106846)
    Nice FUD, slashdot.
    • Re:That's not a fork (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kelson (129150) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:53PM (#17106902) Homepage Journal
      It is if the main OpenOffice.org project decides not to accept the contributed code.

      But if you think it's FUD, blame Groklaw, not Slashdot. They're the ones who came up with the headline.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:05PM (#17107086)
        It is if the main OpenOffice.org project decides not to accept the contributed code.
        if shipping a package with an unaccepted patch is considered "forking", then how the fuck is this news? most unix systems ship with thousands of these "forks".
        • by BiggyP (466507) <philh.theopencd@org> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:15PM (#17107242) Homepage Journal
          Well, if they quietly decided that ODF is unnecessary and made MS "Open" XML the default file format for their builds, that could be cause for concern.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Yes, but they didn't, did they?

            Grokfud for the win!
          • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @12:37AM (#17109386)

            Well, if they quietly decided that ODF is unnecessary and made MS "Open" XML the default file format for their builds, that could be cause for concern.

            Sure. And since Debian has its own "fork" of the Linux kernel (i.e. patches that are not yet in the main source tree), we could say that if they quietly decided Linux is unnecessary and made MS Windows binaries the default kernel for their builds, that would be cause for concern. What is lacking is any evidence that this could ever happen in reality, which is why the story is FUD.

            External patches, adding support for a new file format, do not constitute a fork, any more than patching the Linux kernel to support a new device or filesystem does. I'm not sure where you get the idea they're going to make MS's formats the default.

        • Re:That's not a fork (Score:5, Informative)

          by Curtman (556920) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:36PM (#17108148)
          if shipping a package with an unaccepted patch is considered "forking", then how the fuck is this news?


          Novell forked OpenOffice.org [novell.com] years ago. Here [novell.com] is a press release from back in March that says:

          SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is the first fully supported enterprise desktop to deliver OpenOffice.org 2.0, the leading open source office suite. OpenOffice includes a powerful spreadsheet program, business presentations tool and word processor. The Novell® edition of OpenOffice.org will support many Visual Basic macros, closing one of the chief compatibility gaps between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office. OpenOffice.org 2.0 can save and open documents created in Microsoft Office formats including Excel pivot tables, and it is the only office suite available today that fully supports the OpenDocument file format, the new public standard for document files. Because OpenDocument is a public standard maintained by the open source community, it eliminates vendor lock-in by ensuring information saved in spreadsheets, documents and presentations is freely accessible to any OpenDocument-supporting application.


          Miguel [tirania.org] has a blog entry about this too.
          • Before Novell bought them Ximian forked OpenOffice. The site (ooo.ximian.com) is gone and I haven't been able to find it on Novell's site. The WayBack Machine has it [archive.org], though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pudro (983817)
        When I drive past a field that reeks of shit, I don't blame the cows. I blame the farmers that spread it.

        Groklaw may have created it, but they aren't the ones who spread it on this site.
      • Re:That's not a fork (Score:4, Interesting)

        by molnarcs (675885) <molnarcs&gmail,com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:49PM (#17108694) Homepage Journal
        This is not necessarily FUD - Bob Sutor has a point [sutor.com] when he warns against the danger of OpenXML. It is extremely difficult to adopt the specifications (thousands of pages) - and Novell (typical) does it right now in a way that they will have a headstart (even if they contribute code back later). Moreover, they can only hope to successfully implement parts of the OpenXML specs, while providing MS with enough ammo to continue to push their specs over ODF.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jahz (831343)
        Actually its "forking" either way. The term is slightly ambiguous. It can mean an official development branch OR an independant un-official development based on a copy of the official code. In this case they're definitely going to modify some part of the OO code.

        According to the great and powerful wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        In software engineering, a project fork or branch happens when a developer (or a group of them) takes code from a project and starts to develop independently of the rest. The term is also used more loos

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Crayon Kid (700279)
          It might feel wrong, but maybe we should just accept the free help... If someone offers you a dildo, conveniently pre-lubricated, and even offers to shove it if you'll be so kind as to turn around and bend over... should you "just accept the free help"?
    • by Quantam (870027) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:43PM (#17107572) Homepage
      I've been a fence-sitter for a while, with respect to the accuracy of Groklaw, due mostly to the fact that I'm too lazy to research and confirm the accuracy of PJ's interpretations of the SCO/Linux legalese (which is almost everything I've ever read on Groklaw). This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.
      • by Wavicle (181176) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:52PM (#17107674)
        Yes, sadly this is what Groklaw has become. I think some of PJ's article posts when she came out against the general linux kernel community and its objection to GPLv3 are also shining examples of groklaw bias. Her hypocritical cries "unfair" to a couple responses just killed the shine on groklaw to me.

        I guess we at least learned one thing. She isn't a shill for IBM (Stallman on the other hand...)
      • by RLiegh (247921) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:54PM (#17107710) Homepage Journal
        >This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information,

        You won't find a news outlet completely free of bias; that just isn't going to happen. The idea of a bias-free blog (and groklaw -first and foremost- is a blog) is absurd on its' face.

        As to your second claim; that it's not a reliable source of information; I would like to know why specifically you assert that their information is unreliable and what specifically they get wrong.

        Or is it (as I suspect) that you simply disagree with their bias, and have a hard time seperating their bias from the accuracy of their reporting.
      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:06PM (#17108414)
        I've been a fence-sitter for a while, with respect to the accuracy of Groklaw, due mostly to the fact that I'm too lazy to research and confirm the accuracy of PJ's interpretations of the SCO/Linux legalese (which is almost everything I've ever read on Groklaw).

        So let's get this straight: You're too lazy to research the interpretations of a blog of a paralegal who up front admits that she's a paralegal and her site is full of her personal opinions on the law. You do know that she posts all legal documents from the court cases for you to read, right?

        This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.

        Although you haven't done any research, you're willing to dismiss her opinions because she might have a bias. That's fine. But you're also going to dismiss all the information she he accumulated like motions, orders, etc, because she has an opinion?

      • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:04PM (#17108808) Homepage Journal

        This article, as well as many of the comments PJ made under the article, have lead me to the conclusion that Groklaw is not an objective and/or reliable source of information, and would be better regarded as a political activist site.

        Wow, you manage to state the blindingly obvious and the draw a non sequitur conclusion, all in one sentence.

        Yes, PJ has a definite, undisguised bias. She started her blog because she's a fan of Linux and F/LOSS. Yes, her analysis of non-legal issues is often deeply flawed and her opinions drive way too much of her analysis. She is neither businesswoman, nor software developer and doesn't understand that much of either -- more than most who aren't experts in those fields, perhaps, but much less than those who are. I wish she'd be a little more reticent to discuss issues she doesn't understand very well, and she used to be, but fame has gone to her head just a little. I see that as unfortunate but understandable.

        Her analysis of the legal minutiae of the cases, however, is nearly always spot-on, and her projections of the outcomes, judges' opinions and general ebb and flow of the cases are excellent. All of which is, of course, completely unsurprising given that she *is* an expert in that area. She's not as expert as a trial attorney of course, but she's expert enough to know what she doesn't know, and frequently gets assistance from lawyers where needed. She also often pulls in assistance from experts in non-legal areas, and knows enough to recognize and use the best.

        Finally, if you just want to look at Groklaw for its information content, that's absolutely unimpeachable. She collects all of the available data about the cases and presents it in its raw, unaltered glory (or lack thereof). And she's extremely good at finding relevant snippets of fact in the mass of data floating out there in the world -- which is *precisely* what she is most expert at.

        If you don't like PJ's rants, ignore them. But if you discount the data collection, legal analysis and projections, you're a fool. Exactly the same sort of fool that she is when she goes off about things she doesn't understand, actually.

  • Um (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eco-Mono (978899) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:50PM (#17106852) Homepage
    Does this look like Microsoft back to its old "embrace and extend" tricks to anyone else?
    • That worked really well with web browsers and Java (until a court stopped it). I think it would be real news if Microsoft or Oracle bought out RedHat and possibly Sun. That would dramatically shrink the world of open-source. However, I think we can live without Suse, even if it was a wonderful distro. It seems that the Zerg have infested it...
    • Re:Um (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kopl (1027670) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:14PM (#17107228) Journal
      It doesn't look it to me. All they did was release plug-in for Open Office. To say that they are forking it is a huge exaggeration. One that apparently fooled you. I see no problem with supporting an additional format, even if it is controlled by MSFT.
      • by Eco-Mono (978899)
        I don't think the notion of a fork is all that erroneous.

        WALTHAM, Mass.--04 Dec 2006--Novell today announced that the Novell® edition of the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite will now support the Office Open XML format, increasing interoperability between OpenOffice.org and the next generation of Microsoft Office. Novell is cooperating with Microsoft and others on a project to create bi-directional open source translators for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations between OpenOffice.org

    • Re:Um (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrHanky (141717) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:27PM (#17107382) Homepage Journal
      To me it looks like Novell develops interoperability with Microsoft's new document format. That's a good thing, since nothing is going to stop the format anyway. Embrace? Novell "embraces" Microsoft's format insofar as they support it, which OpenOffice.org already does with the old format. Extend? That would be insane, since it would leave OOo incompatible.

      If Novell can develop good plugins for Microsoft's new format, users could actually switch to OOo instead of upgrading Office. Yes, there's the patent situation, but Microsoft can't do much about interoperability as a convicted monopolist.
      • Chasing taillights. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:47PM (#17107610)
        The problem with that is it would just take 1 "high priority" "security update" to break the compatibility. And then all those OpenOffice.org installations are "broken" for their customers. Just stick with MS Office, it's less likely to "break".

        Microsoft would be happy to maintain control of the de facto "standard" in file formats. That way they can keep everyone chasing after their last update.

        Instead, Novell should be looking at making it easier to migrate FROM Microsoft's standards.
        • by MrHanky (141717) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:05PM (#17107820) Homepage Journal
          No. The same security update would also break Office's compatibility with itself.

          And interoperability does just make "it easier to migrate FROM Microsoft's standards".
          • No, it would not. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by khasim (1285)
            Read up on the DR-DOS and Windows 3.0 beta issue.

            It is trivial to test for specific cases and force "incompatibility" in all others.

            And no, if you're implementing Microsoft's standards on a different platform, Microsoft still controls those standards and can keep changing them whenever they want to.

            That doesn't even bring up any patents that Microsoft has on their formats.

            Again, the focus should be on implementing Open/Free standards, not proprietary ones.
    • by NineNine (235196)
      If you call making the product more useful to more people an "embrace and extend" trick, then hopefully, they can "embrace and extend" more OSS projects. This is going to be a good thing for users. It really doesn't say all that much for the OSS community that it took getting MS involved for something like this to happen.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by colinbrash (938368)
      Does this look like Microsoft back to its old "embrace and extend" tricks to anyone else?

      Why, those dirty forkers...
  • by Kelson (129150) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:50PM (#17106858) Homepage Journal
    I remember when Novell bought SuSE, people were wondering just how they would inevitably fork up Linux.

    Now we know.
    • Re:All forked up (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kimvette (919543) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:02PM (#17107794) Homepage Journal
      How exactly did they "fork up" Linux?

      - By opening up the Ximian connector for Exchange?
      - By refining KDE and making it a pleasant environment>?
      - By making SuSE a distro which requires very little (since 10.1 NO) tweaking to get to real work in a heterogeneous environment?
      - By making the installation process so easy it's actually enjoyable?
      - By submitting many, many valuable patches to the kernel?
      - By submitting many, many valuable patches to OpenOffice.org?
      - By making ReiserFS journaling actually work?

      If this is "forking up" Linux, I sincerely hope that they continue to do so. I've been running SuSE 10.2 off and on and it's shaping up to be a wonderful distribution. The first thing I'm turning off is the Novell-style K-menu, then installing beryl (a great fork of XGL), but aside from those 10.2 is great in what I've tried so far. I still like it more than I like kubuntu (and kubuntu is great).

      Novell, keep forking up Linux! :)

      Now, what will 10.3 or 11 bring? That's a different question. Up to now Novell has made wonderful contributions to Linux as a whole, gained a lot of exposure for the environment, and as many people believe (true or not) any publicity is good publicity. Their "covenant" with Microsoft is catching the attention of many PHBs, and are more likely to seriously consider choosing something other than Microsoft thanks in part to Novell's actions. From what I see here only reactionists and zealots are attacking Novell over this rather than taking a wait-and-see approach. I'm somewhat doubtful that Microsoft will seriously try to kill Linux, but use their partnership with Novell as a learning exercise to improve the Windows platform, since if they try to break interoperability, "taint" linux, or exercise obvious patents such as the oh-so "innovative" double-click that the DoJ will be all over them, and the EU will be coming down on them very hard. Being a monopoly which was convicted of abusing their monopoly status, Microsoft still has to be very careful in how they tread where agreements such as this are concerned.

      Wait and see. If next summer's release proves to be incompatible with the GPL, then it will certainly be time to jump ship.
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ENOENT (25325) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:53PM (#17106918) Homepage Journal
    When did "forking" come to mean "releasing plugins for a product"?
    • by QuantumG (50515) *
      Yeah, that's groklaw for ya. Good with law, poor with the truth. Like all lawyers I guess.
    • by e4g4 (533831)
      Perhaps when it acquired quotation marks? In the ever evolving english language, perhaps "forking" means "releasing plugins for a product" and forking means what it bloody well already does mean.
      • Punctuation Abuse? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kelson (129150) * on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:22PM (#17107316) Homepage Journal
        Perhaps when it acquired quotation marks? In the ever evolving english language, perhaps "forking" means "releasing plugins for a product" and forking means what it bloody well already does mean.

        Hmm, that reminds me of the trend of tacking on a question mark to a controversial headline in order to avoid claims of inaccuracy. The headline would be something like, "Slashdot Full of Weirdos?" and even if the article concedes that, no, only half of Slashdot posters are weirdos, so it can hardly be construed as "full" of them, the impression has still been made -- especially on the casual viewer who sees the headline, but doesn't read the article.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      Ever since slashdot decided Novell was to be the next SCO, maybe even worse... the Quisling [wikipedia.org] of linux distros. Personally I think that this plug-in should just be in a separate package from the main OpenOffice branch, that should cover Sun's behind and other distros like Red Hat has already given Microsoft the finger... As far as I can tell, the worst we could end up with is good compatibility with OpenOffice, which would hurt MS Office more than anything else.
    • by mpcooke3 (306161)
      When you change the logo too.

      ---
      "Novell, Inc. delivering hidden patent lock-ins to the Enterprise(TM)"
  • wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by drDugan (219551) *
    I wonder if there is much more that Novell could do to distance itself from the open source community than a wild backdoor romp in the sheets with Microsoft? Maybe they'll become the next FOSS SCOapegoat?
    • Moneywise, things look pretty shagadelic from where Novell is sittin' & spinnin', suckin' on the ms-machine gun udders.

      Watch out for the winding roads ahead, Novell... I see mshaft squirting oil on the road in your path...

      But, the Powers question: can we say of Novell "It is SPITZ, or SWALLOWS, baby?..."

  • Having the GPL shoved sideways up one's butt has to hurt. Let's ask Novell in a couple of years just how much. With MS's hands on Novell's hips to guide it in, at least it'll be well greased with money.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Wow.. I know it is prudent to be cynical and untrusting of Microsoft or anyone who does something with them but this is getting a little out of hand.

      Didn't we have a week of everyone telling Novel that their deal with Microsoft wouldn't hold up to the GPLv3 and novel would have to fork everything and maintain it themselves? Now novel is accelerating the process and protecting themselves by controlling it(when and how) and it is Microsoft's doing because Novel made a deal with the devil.
  • by panaceaa (205396) on Monday December 04, 2006 @07:56PM (#17106956) Homepage Journal
    I guess Microsoft's "ignore the competitor" strategy has failed, and they're switching to "embrace, extend, extinguish [wikipedia.org]" as Microsoft's claimed to have called their strategy against Java and Netscape. It's interesting that lately Microsoft's been using puppet companies (SCO, Novell) to do their dirty work, rather than adding crappy support for open standards in their own products. I wonder what the legal agreements between Microsoft and Novell/SCO look like?
  • Microsoft's planned Office formal

    Finally, a chance to wear my paper clip studs and cuff-links with a tuxedo!

  • by ciurana (2603) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:01PM (#17107034) Homepage Journal
    I have been an OpenOffice.org supporter and evangelist for many years [computerworld.com]. It saddens me to see Novell do these things because they at once seem good for their business but place people on the road to vendor lock-in once more. The Microsoft formats are closed and incompatible. The sane approach would be to standardize ODF across the board.

    Novell must protect its business as an obligation to its shareholders. In the process, though, they may alienate some of the open-source community supporters to the point where countermeasures may be executed. Forks like this mean that some open-source developers and organizations may ban or license their software in such a way that prevents Novell from sharing the goodies. This in turn results in fragmentation that benefits nobody but Microsoft and its offerings.

    This is a master stroke from Microsoft's point of view because this way they may sneak OpenXML into organizations that had otherwise had the sanity to abandon MS-Office and forces them to move in that direction again. Novell gets stuck in the middle, with their leadership getting screwed from both ends (open-source developers and advocates in one corner, and Microsoft in the other) while thinking that they are doing something good. In the end nobody but Microsoft wins this one.

    Just say "NO" to OpenXML in an OpenOffice.org fork. Make it an optional package download, and make it a non-default setting, but don't fork the code. In fact, I'd go one step further and make it a requirement for Microsoft Office (and Office Mac) to support ODF if they want OpenXML included in any open-source product. That would make this a two-way street. Are you listening, Novell?

    Cheers,

    E
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kelson (129150) *

      Forks like this mean that some open-source developers and organizations may ban or license their software in such a way that prevents Novell from sharing the goodies.

      Any such license could not be reasonably considered "open source." Actually, you might be able to call it open source, but it certainly wouldn't fall under "free software" and wouldn't be compatible with the GPL. So any existing GPL projects would not be able to block Novell unless Novell itself violated the GPL. Any existing BSD-licensed

      • Parent is dead-on correct; if you place a restriction on who can use the software, the restriction means the software is no longer "open source".

        I'm not fond of the Microsoft/Novell cross-licensing agreement, because it does seem to involve those companies playing games and creating FUD rather than actually doing something to create better software, but I don't see a reason to become paranoid that Novell is suddenly going to pervert the GPL license terms. If they tried, Novell would lose the right to redis
    • by panaceaa (205396) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:14PM (#17108870) Homepage Journal
      My initial reaction was the same as yours. But now that I've reflected on the news, and the fact that the "fork" is really just some plug-ins to support OpenXML, I'm not so sure this is a bad thing. What's wrong with having OpenOffice support one more format, especially if it provides better interoperability with the Windows world? It would make it EASIER to use Linux. It would be EASIER to switch to OpenOffice. Where's the evil in that? Would you feel the same way if an open source team of developers worked on the same OpenXML functionality for OpenOffice, similar to how open source people are working on Mono?

      I'm actually surprised that I can't find the evil considering Microsoft's been behind a lot of Novell's announcements lately. But this announcement seems more like something Novell's SUSE team has been working on.
  • by modir (66559) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:01PM (#17107038) Homepage Journal
    This Novell bashing is absolutely not necessary. All Novell is doing is releasing several plugins for Open Office and MS Office. Red Hat could have done this too. And those plugins are all open source and hosted on sourceforge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by killjoe (766577)
      It doesn't matter if the code is open sourced and hosted on sourceforge. It most likely violated MS patents and MS said they intend to sue anybody who USES any software which violates their patents unless it was bought from novell.

      So once you download and install this plug in you make yourself a target for a lawsuit from MS. Furthermore the developers who may contribute to the plugins will also be sued (according to the CEO of MS).

      Open source doesn't mean jack shit in this case. MS is laying the groundwork
  • by definate (876684)
    Couldn't this be done as an extension/plugin for OO? It would seem that would be more reasonable than a fork.

    Does anyone know if this changes the license for the entire product? Would they then be able to package proprietary code with it? If so this might be an attempt to not only "embrace and extend" but to gain market share from a competitor using a competitors software. (Eg. It doesn't matter if there is a free alternative, if there is a free alternative which is under their control)
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <[shadow.wrought] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:02PM (#17107048) Homepage Journal
    But I thought the whole point of OSS and the like is that you could extend and modify as you like. If you can then make money on it that's fine, but okey-dokey as long as you comply with the license. At its core its Novell doing just that? Sure they're making themselves pariah's amongst the Linux crowd, but isn't that the kind of risk that OSS is supposed to allow?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by physicsnick (1031656)
      The problem is that Novell is extending it with functionality that is likely patented by Microsoft. Since Microsoft is offering them patent protection, it means their extensions to OOo, and any other F/OSS they'll likely fork, are not actually usable by anyone not running a SuSE distro. This is the loophole they have found in the GPLv2 that allows them to add proprietary extensions to OSS software. Their extensions may as well be closed source. Novell should burn for this.
  • by distantbody (852269) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:03PM (#17107072) Journal
    ...The spell checker, it simply doesn't work...or at least it has never been able to highlight any spelling mistakes, not once. Jusd az wel that mi speling iz topp noch.
  • Novell has had its own version of openoffice for quite some time.

    How does Novell intend to improve compatibility
    "The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell's OpenOffice.org product."
    most likely in the extras disc just like they put the drivers for intel wireless cards in the extras
    disc.

  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:09PM (#17107152) Homepage
    Summary states Novell will write a plugin for openoffice.org.

    Getting the relevant Microsoft license(s) to cooperate with a GPL license will be a new and complex Microsoft "To Serve OpenOffice.org Customers" policy.

    It certainly would diffuse some of the friction between the two camps, appease gov't bodies and Microsoft has nothing to worry about from OO.org. There may be some good to come out of this....

    That is of course until the "To Serve OpenOffice.org" policy is translated into plain english. When it is discovered the policy is in fact a cookbook! AHHHHHH!!!!!!
  • Java makes OpenOffice incredibly slow.

  • make OO the standard and fork MS.
  • Why did MS change the format of their documents in the next version of Office anyway? It seems like the current version was getting to be pretty well supported across the board... what do they possibly gain by breaking compatibility with third party office suites? People that could afford Office will still buy and use office, but everyone else gets screwed. If you're going to switch to a completely new format that even breaks Office 2003, why not adopt the OpenDocument format that's a standard instead of
  • Not really a fork (Score:5, Informative)

    by terrymr (316118) <terrymr.gmail@com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:24PM (#17107352)
    It's not really a fork. Openoffice.org already said they were in favor of this [techweb.com].
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:30PM (#17107406)
    Finally, thank goodness...

    This actually gives OpenOffice a real chance - not only to be competitive but to offer a document format that has some power in its abilities.

    Like I argued before with the whole OpenDocument controversy, the file formats and standards in play in the OSS world are just not robust enough to handle the current generation of documents, let alone even try to handle future concepts of what document storage could entail.

    Whether OpenOffice takes advantage of it or not, the potential to maintain and use technologies that are standard in the MS world of documents like Ink and extended media content are now possible.

    This is actually a win win for both sides of the fence. MS doesn't have to spend development money on a version of Office for the growing OSS OS world, and the OSS OS world can now freely be just as strong of a competitor in the business world. Basically, companies that can afford MS software will continue to do so, and smaller entities that cannot afford the price to buy into MS technology can go Open Source and not have to worry about document compatibility.

    With Wordperfect also adding the MS Open format, the market once again has a choice in quality and price of the production product and won't have to worry about losing features based on the solution they choose.

    If OpenDocument would have just been more 'open' about robust features that are covered in the MS OpenXML document specifications, we would see it be the standard everyone would be happily using.

    However with OpenDocument it was quite unreasonable to expect MS to move to a document format that would stripe away 30% of the features that their products provide. I don't know why this was so hard for the OpenDocument crowd to understand, especially when MS was already in the process of creating an open standard that DID include more advanced document capabilities.

    If we are lucky, now we might even see OpenOffice and Wordperfect move to add more feature rich concepts into their products to take advantage of the information they now easily read and store in the MS OpenXML format. Imagine everything from Ink to Sound and Video that are all even text searchable(via recognition), as you can already do with Microsoft Office products.

  • In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:44PM (#17107584)
    People have been forking Firefox by making plug-ins for it.
  • ... stick a fork in it; Novell is done.
  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iago515 (862958) <Iago515.gmail@com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @08:52PM (#17107682)

    This is a big step in getting more businesses to accept OpenOffice.org. As you all know, it's one of the problems between the two camps with MS holding the biggest cards. By providing this plugin, it takes one more major obstacle away from businesses/governments using OpenOffice.org.

    Novell SUSE is trying to set themselves up as the desktop Linux vendor, a market that Red Hat has abandoned. To do this they have to make sure that their distro plays nice with MS and other desktop offerings. It's not only a good thing, but necessary. In the medium term OpenOffice.org to be able to open and save in "OPEN" XML format. I'm self employed and if I couldn't communicate with my clients using doc format I would have to get MS Office, no way around it. I'm just happy I'll be able to stick with OpenOffice.org in the future as I'm not holding my breath of all my clients changing soon.

  • Feed the trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bockelboy (824282) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:05PM (#17107822)
    First of all, note that this is not a fork of the code. Novell is developing a plugin to read the OpenXML format, a Microsoft format.

    Let me repeat, They are not forking OpenOffice.

    Hell, the sourceforge project is called "odf-converter", not "Novell's evil plan for OO.o".

    Further, the only way that I could read the press release from Novell in order to interpret it as "Novell is forking OpenOffice.org" is by the sentence which refers to the current OpenOffice.org product as "Novell's OpenOffice.org". That sounds more like a marketing intern not understanding how OOo and open source works out, not a secret decision on Novell's part.

    Finally, I really hate the attitude that many of those contributing to Slashdot has taken toward Novell's current projects. It's fairly one-sided. They are not violating the law. They are not violating the GPL. They are not violating the spirit of the GPL.

    The point of the GPL is that anyone can take your code, change it, and redistribute it, as long as they follow the rules. You can't make a distinction between people redistributing your software who you like and those who you don't like.

    There's a lot of you who are sounding like Bush-style Republicans who want free speech for themselves, but not for those saying things they don't agree with. I bet a lot of you beating up on Novell today for taking advantage of the GPL are the same who beat up on Newt Gingrich the other day when he wanted to restrict free speech on the Internet. Hypocrites.

    If you don't like Novell's contributions, don't accept them; if you think Novell is trying to get OpenXML into OO.o so MS can sue RedHat for patent infringement, think again. I doubt OpenXML is any more patent-ridden than the .doc format, or that there aren't any patent violations in the Linux kernel or OO.o already.

    In other words, Novell can't paint any bigger target on Linux's back than there already is. MS and IBM have so many ambiguous patents that they can sue any Linux user for the indefinite future.

    Believe it or not, Novell may just be trying to differentiate its product so people would buy it over their competitor's product. You know, effectively compete in the business world. That sort of thing.

    Groklaw used to be a place where I could get a detailed analysis of legal issues I didn't understand. Now, it seems to have disintegrated into blind zealotry. Maybe they were trying to be funny in the article, and I just didn't get the joke...
  • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuel.bcgreen@com> on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:36PM (#17108168) Homepage Journal
    This deal may bind Novell and MS in unexpected ways... If/when MS starts to distribute it's tokens for copies of Novell's SUSE linux, you can look at the two as being a combined entity distributing Linux in violation of Copyright (since they're obviously not abiding by the GPL). IANAL, so it's not perfectly clear to me whether you would accuse MS of primary of contributory copyright violation -- but I'm pretty sure that, if they were to sue someone who called on entities like OSDL to support them in their defence, you could end up draw in Novell as a third party co-defendant on the counter-suit.

    If my theory holds, somebody with an itchy pen-finger wouldn't even have to wait for a Microsoft patent suit to sue the pair -- although I'd probably wait for the resolution of IBM's copyright countersuit against SCO for a possibly useful precedent.
    There's usually more than one way to cat a file.

  • Divide and Conquer? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Monday December 04, 2006 @09:49PM (#17108264)
    As a result, end users will be able to more easily share files between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, as documents will better maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites.

    Maybe it's just the pessimist in me, but this sounds like a Divide and Conquer strategy to me.

    With the OpenDocument format standard becoming a published ISO standard this week, [slashdot.org] who cares about Microsoft's OpenXML format? Forking OO.o just means that bugs and security problems will have to be fixed by two sources, deployed by two sources, and cause interoperability problems between users of vanilla OO.o and Novell's OO.

    All to cause confusion and allow Microsoft to paint themselves in a better light than the FOSS community.

  • Jethro (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sir Runcible Spoon (143210) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @04:20AM (#17110574)
    Jethro! Jethro! Get up! Fetch yer pitch fork.

    We'r goin' over to Novell's. Bring the dogs, an summin that'll burn.

    Forkin? Forkin? We'll givem forkin!
  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:41AM (#17112868) Journal
    The summary says it'll be a plug-in. Even if OOo doesn't take the contribution, which I don't think it should given the recent MSNovell debacle, I'd still hardly call distributing a plug-in that the core project doesn't distribute a fork. Now, if they decided to put the code into the main tree of their version, that might be a fork. If they made ClosedXML the default, that'd definitely be a fork.

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